Omaha State Senator Bob Krist says Nebraska needs to get serious about the problem of radon in our homes. The odorless, colorless gas is the second-leading cause of cancer in Nebraskans, behind only tobacco.
Krist has introduced a bill (LB 13) which would require all new home construction to be radon-resistant, starting on January 1st of 2015.
“I introduced LB13 because it’s time to take this issue head-on and deal with it in our homes and the best way to start is with new residential construction,” he says.
Krist says Nebraska has the third-highest emission of radon gas in the country because of the concentration of uranium in the soil. The gas is created through decay of the element.
A task force would be formed, under the measure, to map ideas on how to go forward.
David Holmquist of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network says the concern about radon is similar to that of asbestos exposure. Holmquist says radon prevention systems in new construction can range from $500 for a passive system to $800 to $2,000 for an active system.
Radon contractors are licensed by the State of Nebraska. Curtis Drew is president and owner of National Radon Defense, an Omaha testing and mitigation firm that’s been around for 35 years.
“We’ve mitigated about a million homes in the United States and we’ve actually built more homes in that time period that have high radon problems than we’ve mitigated,” Drew says. “We’re not keeping up with the problem. We keep building homes that have high radon levels instead of doing things like this, building them resistant to radon.”
Drew says Minnesota has had radon-resistant construction for three years and Illinois just passed similar legislation. He says it’s important to have specific standards for such construction.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice